Package Forwarding Services for International Customers

What is it?
Third-party package forwarding services allow international customers to purchase from businesses in the United States and have the packages shipped to a U.S. address.  They usually include consolidation services that combine multiple shipments and forward them to an international address as one shipment.  Some forwarding companies also provide repackaging services, calculation of customs clearance, duties and taxes and payment in US currency.  Forwarding services are particularly useful when purchasing from U.S. businesses that do not ship to international addresses or do not accept international currencies. 

Who Benefits?
> Consolidation from Multiple VendorsóCUSTOMER Benefits
Consolidation (combining shipments from multiple sources into one shipment) helps save shipping costs since shipping rates per pound decline with an increase in overall weight.  Separate shipments are charged based on the weight of each shipment but a consolidated shipment is charged based on the weight of the combined packages.

> RepackagingóFORWARDING SERVICE Benefits
Most, if not all, forwarding services charge based on the original packaging.  This is necessary in order to quote shipping costs up front.  Repacking may help the customer in that there are fewer packages to account for but the real benefactor is the forwarding company who pays for shipping based on the repackaged (smaller) shipment.  The difference may not be much if actual weight is used for shipping calculations.  But if dimensional weight is used, savings to the forwarding service can be very large (see What is Dimensional Weight? below).

> High Volume Shipping RatesóBoth CUSTOMER and FORWARDING SERVICE Benefit
The forwarding service will sign contracts with the shipping companies based on very high volumes.  This will give them extremely good rates, some of which they will pass on to their customers.  Some portion of the discounts will likely be a source of revenue for the forwarding service.

NOTE:  When using forwarding services, the bottom line shipping costs may be higher or lower than those charged by U.S. companies who ship directly to international customers.  Different shipping locations can give completely different results.  It's up to you, the customer, to compare costs.

What is dimensional weight?
If you look at shipping from the shipping company's perspective, you will realize that they have to pay for space on an airplane to get your packages delivered to you.  Generally, weight is used as the indicator of how much you will pay.  However, a package may be very large and take up a great amount of space without weighing much at all.  For this reason, "dimensional weight" was created as a way to calculate a volume-based "weight."  The bottom line is that the weight used for calculating your shipping costs is either the actual weight or dimensional weight (DIM), whichever is greater.

Dimensional weight is calculated by multiplying the length by width by height (to calculate the volume) and then dividing by a dimensional factor, typically 139 for international packages originating in the U.S.  For example, a box weighing 37 lbs with dimensions of 56" length by 31" width by 25" height would be considered 313 lbs since the dimensional weight (56 x 31 x 25 / 139 = 312.2, rounded up to 313 lbs) is greater than the actual weight (37 lbs).  In this case, reducing the box size would decrease the cost of shipping and changing the actual weight will make no difference as long as it is under 313 lbs.

In the example above, if we also had a separate 12 lb box, it could be essentially shipped for free if placed inside the larger 37 lb box.  The resulting single-box shipment would weight 49 lbs (12 lbs plus 37 lbs) but still be charged at 313 lbs DIM.

Some Popular Forwarding Services
Here are some forwarding services that seem to be popular and legitimate, without excessive complaints:

Bongo International (bongous.com)
MyUS.com (myus.com)
Shipito (shipito.com)
SHIP2ME (ship2me.com)

NOTE:  JMI Telescopes does not recommend nor guarantee any particular forwarding service.  When doing your research, be sure to check their pricing structure and identify all fees.  If most services are free, then expect higher shipping charges or hidden fees.  Every viable company has to make money in order to stay in business.

Summary
Understanding dimensional weight and forwarding services will give you the information to make an informed decision.  JMI Telescopes ships directly to most countries.  Therefore, forwarding service companies are not necessary but you may benefit from using them.  In most cases, all you will need to do is register with one of the services and receive their address and your customer code (entered as part of the address) which you will give to us when ordering.

Sincerely,

The JMI Team